I’ve been tracking the evolution of the blog Wondering Fair over the past year with great interest, not least because of the excellent writing and theological engagement with culture that it contains. I have appreciated the diversity of voices, the spectrums of issues raised, and the overall vision of a safe and interesting place to talk about the things that matter most to us. René has really done a great job in articulating and implementing a vision for constructive and stimulating conversation about faith, God, and truth in a post-Christian world that is often suspicious about these very things.
Not surprisingly, when I was asked to be a regular contributor to WF, I leaped at the opportunity. Read more
In the summer of 2006, I had just completed my first year at Regent College, and was looking for a few interesting summer courses to accelerate my degree. When I sat down to my first class with Prof. Alister McGrath on Christian Apologetics—a course that spent a lot of time on the ideas of Richard Dawkins—I had no idea that a few months later The God Delusion would hit the shelves, kick starting a half decade or so of fairly lively debate in the Western world on questions such as the existence of God, the role of religion in public life, and the nature of belief.
I also had no idea that a year later I would be getting very well-acquainted with Messrs. Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Dennett, during my Masters thesis attempting to locate the phenomenon of the new atheism as a response to the problem of evil. Read more
I just returned from a glorious five days spent motorcycling through Washington and Oregon. We crossed the border into the United States last Sunday and then headed over the Cascade Mountains, wound our way down to northern Oregon, then meandered through the central part of the state, before heading back north up the Oregon Coast, and catching a ferry back to Vancouver Island from Port Angeles, WA last night. All in all, a fantastic trip. Read more
Well, as difficult as it is to believe it as I sit here in a coffee shop in snowy southern Alberta where we are visiting for the weekend, summer will soon be upon us. And while there are obviously many ways that you could spend your holiday time, one of the best, most re-creational ways to spend a week or two this summer might just be a course at Regent College. Read more
This morning, I began teaching a kind of “Apologetics 101” mini-course at church. On the agenda today was the question of how it is possible to believe that Jesus is the way, truth, and life when there are so many other religious options out there. In other words, how do we affirm one perspective as true in a pluralistic context? Perhaps more importantly, how do we do so in an intelligent, curious, and sensitive manner that does not alienate and annoy people unnecessarily? It was a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking class. Read more
I had breakfast yesterday with a couple of friends, one of whom happens to be the interim editor of our denominational magazine, the Mennonite Brethren Herald. Not surprisingly, the conversation eventually touched on the January issue of the Herald which was devoted to the doctrine of creation. Perhaps less surprisingly, given the nature of the issue’s content, my editor friend has been getting a bit of heat—both directly, via email, and indirectly via the blogosphere—from those on the “young earth” end of the spectrum. Even less surprisingly, the rhetoric can (and does) quickly turn fairly nasty when it comes to topics like these (I’ve reflected on this before here). Apparently, we still have much work to do when it comes to learning how to disagree Christianly. Read more
Well, I just returned from a wonderful week away and am spending a good chunk of today slowly wading through a very clogged in-box! One of the more humourous discoveries I have made thus far in my wading is this cartoon sent by a friend last week.
As is so often the case, it is funny because it is true… Read more
This past Saturday, I attended John Stackhouse’s lectures on faith, reason, and the new atheism down at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. Evidently, there is still some interest in this topic as the event sold out—even in hyper-secular Nanaimo! Around twenty people from our church attended which was fantastic to see! I was in and out of the sessions throughout the day due to carting kids to hockey, friends’ houses, etc, but a couple of things struck me about his presentations: Read more
It’s a busy week around here, so apologies for the lack of original posts. In the meantime, I continue to come across interesting articles and posts discussing the justification for/origins of our moral intuitions (which has been the subject of conversation around here for the last little while). Here are a few quotes on these matters from the eminently quotable David Bentley Hart who last week wrote this essay for First Things’ On the Square: Read more
Given some of the discussion that has been taking place on an earlier post, I thought I would pass on this link to an interesting article by biologist Frans de Waal in today’s edition of “The Stone” (a philosophy forum from The New York Times). The entire article is worth reading as I think he touches on a number of very important points (including the limits of science), but I was especially drawn to one particular section. Read more
Later this month Prof. John Stackhouse from Regent College will be here in Nanaimo to talk about the New Atheists (can we still call them “new?”) and whether or not it is crazy to be a person of faith. Those who have been long-time readers of this blog will know that this is an event that has special interest for me because a) I wrote about the New Atheists for my masters thesis a few years back; and b) John Stackhouse was my supervisor for this project. So I’ll be there with bells on. And if you are on Vancouver Island on Saturday, October 23, I would encourage you to attend this event (you can register here). I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say. Read more
Richard Dawkins famously opens chapter two of The God Delusion with the following oft-quoted, adjectivally promiscuous salvo:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Read more
On the off-chance that anyone out there is looking for further evidence that our cultural discourse is being seriously degraded and trivialized by the proliferation of technology, an article in yesterday’s New York Times alerted readers to the availability of iPhone apps to help believers and non believers arm themselves for war. There are anti-Darwin apps for Christians, “Bible Thumper” apps for atheists, and others, no doubt, each doing what all apps are designed to do: provide entertainment, “illumination,” and diversion as quickly, and with as little demand to think for oneself, as possible. Read more
Last night at our young adults group we talked about, among other things, the frequently encountered view that Christianity is a strange relic of the past, that has nothing useful to say to us in the present, no normative force or existential/moral relevance in a world that has “grown up.” It is a well-rehearsed and often repeated story: once upon a time, primitive people thought there was objective meaning in the cosmos, we now know this to be false, and our only course of action is to salvage what personal meaning we can from the scrap heap of a random and chaotic universe. Read more
A few weeks back, while browsing the Regent College Bookstore, I was surprised to see a new book by Marilynne Robinson called Absence of Mind that deals with issues around the philosophy of mind. I was familiar with, and deeply appreciative of, Robinson’s novels (e.g., Gilead and Home), but this topic seemed like a rather radical departure for her—at least based on my limited exposure to her work. I did a quick scan and of the contents, mentally put the book on my “to read someday” list, and pretty much forgot about it. Read more
I’m still mulling over some of the excellent lectures I heard last week at Regent College’s Pastors Conference on Science and Faith. One lecture, in particular, focused on the “new atheists” (who are increasingly becoming, well, not new) and their often simplistic misunderstandings of the scope of science, the relationship between science and faith and the roles both play in our consideration and adoption of world-views (incidentally, I noticed today that David Bentley Hart has another wonderfully entertaining and insightful critique of the new atheism up over at First Things). The basic idea in the lecture (delivered by Denis Alexander) was familiar enough: just because science can explain one level of reality very well, it is not thereby equipped to explain or even suited to address every level of reality. All that was very good, if relatively standard stuff. Read more
The controversy around the Bruce Walke story has led to some interesting conversations (on this blog, and elsewhere) about the relationship between science and faith, questions about how we read Scripture, and others. One of these conversations took place this morning. Read more
I couldn’t help but be curious when I saw the title of Vancouver Sun spirituality and ethics columnist Douglas Todd’s latest article come through my reader this afternoon: “Embattled Clergy Could Use Christmas Empathy.” Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I read on to discover why I might be the appropriate destination for someone’s Christmas empathy. Read more